Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Improved water and nutrient use efficiency in plant production to protect drinking water sources - URAVIVO

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.03.03  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production  Water, rural space, environment 

Code Science Field
B006  Biomedical sciences  Agronomics 

Code Science Field
4.01  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 
plant production, nitrate, drinking water sources, irrigation, groundwater, fertiliser formulation
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (21)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28541  Špela Arh Marinčič  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2017 - 2020 
2.  32051  PhD Sonja Cerar  Geology  Researcher  2017 - 2020  241 
3.  28545  Andrea Cesar  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2017 - 2019 
4.  31232  PhD Rozalija Cvejić  Plant production  Researcher  2017 - 2020  178 
5.  28495  PhD Matjaž Glavan  Plant production  Researcher  2017 - 2020  307 
6.  10689  PhD Damijana Kastelec  Mathematics  Researcher  2017 - 2020  247 
7.  50321  Katja Koren  Geology  Technical associate  2018 - 2020  270 
8.  35387  PhD Anja Koroša  Geology  Researcher  2017 - 2020  130 
9.  24234  Peter Korpar  Plant production  Technical associate  2017 - 2019 
10.  22352  PhD Jure Krivic  Geology  Researcher  2017 - 2020  244 
11.  01259  PhD Nina Mali  Geology  Researcher  2017 - 2020  438 
12.  17247  Miroslav Medić    Technical associate  2018 - 2019  81 
13.  13073  PhD Rok Mihelič  Plant production  Researcher  2017 - 2020  494 
14.  10024  PhD Marina Pintar  Plant production  Head  2017 - 2020  847 
15.  29502  PhD Igor Prša  Biotechnology  Researcher  2017 - 2020 
16.  14056  PhD Marjetka Suhadolc  Plant production  Researcher  2017 - 2020  261 
17.  37004  Dejan Šram  Geology  Researcher  2017 - 2019  179 
18.  04862  PhD Janko Urbanc  Geology  Researcher  2017 - 2020  462 
19.  11759  PhD Valentina Usenik  Plant production  Researcher  2018 - 2020  425 
20.  20165  PhD Robert Veberič  Plant production  Researcher  2018  578 
21.  19259  PhD Vesna Zupanc  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2020  368 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0215  Geological Survey of Slovenia  Ljubljana  5051410000  11,215 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  67,277 
3.  2495  KOSTAK, komunalno in gradbeno podjetje, d.d. (Slovene)  Krško  5156572  84 
4.  2626  UNICHEM, proizvodnja kemičnih izdelkov, d.o.o. (Slovene)  Vrhnika  5289203 
In the future, water will become even less available, which calls for innovative solutions for water use efficiency in agriculture. Due to the complexity of the problem of polluted aquifers under agricultural areas, governments and researchers assign much time and funding to the integration of environment protection and agriculture and for achieving a good quality status of water bodies according to the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which also requires the preparation of river basin management plans (RBMPs) and impact the measures of the rural development plans (RDPs). The groundwater (GW) aquifer of the Krško Polje field is the main drinking water resource for the research area population. Particularly in the south west part of the aquifer nitrate content exceeds 50 mg/l, classifying the aquifer among those of poor quality, and resulting in the closing down of the local drinking water pumping station Drnovo. Increased nitrate conc. in GW is mostly caused by the application of mineral and organic fertilizers. Nitrate is mostly the consequence of mineral and organic fertilizers, unfavorable weather conditions, unsuitable crop rotation and the absence of nitrogen catch crops. In the research area, the highest nitrate pressure on the environment comes from occasionally inexpert use of slurry, originating from the local pig farm. An additional environmental variable and research challenge is a changed hierological/ hydrogeological regime due to anticipated GW level because of hydropower plant dam construction on the lower Sava river. The main objective of the project is to improve the management regime of land in the function of plant production, with the aim to improve the water quality in shallow aquifers under changed hydrogeological conditions. To achieve this goal, we will introduce and explore more innovative approaches and solutions to reduce the input of nitrogen into GW: (1) Development of new formulations of organic or organic-mineral fertilizer from manure from the pig farm from the Krško polje area aiming to reduce the potential for ground water contamination. The challenge is to get from the slurry formulation of organic or organic-mineral fertilizer, which enables longer storage and economical transport; (2) deficit soil water content management (DSWCM) in combination with the use of organic fertilizers. DSWCM allows more efficient use of water for irrigation, which is also required by the WFD, RBMP 2016-2021 and the RDP 2014-2020; (3) the use of nitrate-contaminated GW for irrigation, taking into account the amount of water added nitrogen in the fertilization plan and the implementation of the DSCWM strategy. Due to a decreased soil water content, microbial activity also decreases, which can slow down the mineralization of organic fertilizers and nitrogen availability, leading to a possible change in nitrate leaching potential to GW; (4) introduction of the soil water content measurement system, which is affordable and therefore suitable for wide use in irrigation practice; (5) use of SWAT (Soil-Water-Assessment-Tool) model to evaluate the leaching of nitrogen from agriculture taking into account climate change scenarios; (6) use of inverse MODFLOW model to assess the input of nitrogen into the soil from various sources (i.e., settlement, agriculture and natural resources); (7) synthesis of all the analyzes carried out for a comprehensive proposal for remedial measures to reduce pollution of GW of the Krško Polje field, as a model project for the rehabilitation of shallow aquifers under changing conditions. Each phase of the project, which is divided into six interrelated work packages, will take place at the level of research in the laboratory (eg. the formulation of a new fertilizer) or field trials in the area of the Krško field (eg. implementation of DSCWM). SWAT and MODFLOW models will address the entire range of Krško Polje.
Significance for science
Different strategies of deficient irrigation base on different principles than DSWCM so the results of this strategy significantly contributed in the range of research on the cross-sectional area of irrigation and protection of water resources. The introduction of low-cost soil water content measurement probes represents a major advance in the research field of agrohydrology on the one hand and in irrigation practice on the other. The high price of systems for measuring soil water content often limits the scope of research filed of agrohydrology. And for the purposes of irrigation practices in Slovenia, these systems are too expensive. At the same time, in practice of deficient irrigation or irrigation strategy according to DSWCM, more affordable tensiometers are useless, due to a narrow range of measurements. Surveys, based on sufficient number of soil water content measurement probes in the ground have a greater possibility of publishing results in journals with higher impact factor.  The main challenge of the second and third cycle of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) in the years 2015 to 2027 is how to fully integrate climate change into river basin management plans. Country Slovenia is expected to develop the local climate scenarios by the end of 2016. Using them in models in the URAVIVO project, we will contribute at an early stage to scientific studies which are already moving towards modelling of combined effects of changed climate, land use and agricultural management on transport of pollutants to water bodies. The great importance of the project for the development of science is an approach where we develop a comprehensive, synergistic concept of improving agriculture, from farm to crop land for better management of nitrogen in wide protection zones for drinking water. The string of recent technological measures (restrictive irrigating strategy of DSWCM, conversion of part of manure into commercial fertilizer and the divestment of part of the nitrogen from the system to reduce nitrogen surplus in the area, targeted fertilization on the basis of modeling and measurements, the conceptual design of the monitoring of nutrients in the system soil-plant-groundwater) is the basis for the future agriculture, which will be on-line supported by information from the field and possible solutions. The project is very topical theme in Slovenia due to the protection of drinking water resources and conservation of agriculture to achieve a sufficient level of self-sufficiency in food. This also opens the research field of socio-economic impact of environmental protection in the business (e.g. agriculture), so we expect that the project will encourage interest in the other sciences (e. g. in sociology and economics), which will contribute their knowledge to successfully resolve such or the like, in the cross-sectional area, problems.
Significance for the country
The project will have first direct impact for the economy of enterprises involved in the project. Company Kostak d.d. is co-financer and partner in the project and is responsible for drinking water supply in the area of ??Krško Polje. The results of the project can be used directly for the management of drinking water wells. Also, the project results will be used in determining water protection zones, which the Government of the Republic of Slovenia defines based on the article No. 74 of the Water Act (Official Gazette of RS, No. 67/02 and 57/08) to protect from pollution the body of water that is used for abstraction or intended for public supply of drinking water. Through the adopted governmental regulation, as well as with other direct results (e.g. the possibility of irrigation from groundwater of Krško Polje, a comprehensive proposal for remedial measures to reduce groundwater pollution of Krško Polje), the project will have an impact on the economy at the Krško Polje and beyond, what is the direct interest of the Municipality of Krško, which is one of co-financers of the project. The conceptual model of Krško Polje aquifer with a detailed definition of the hydraulic connection between the River Sava and the aquifer is one of the deliverables of the project, which will be directly applicable to the company HESS d.o.o, co-financer of the project. The latter manages the water accumulation for the hydropower plant on the River Sava, which causes an increase of groundwater level on Krško Polje. After the successful introduction of low-cost soil water content sensors, the project results will impact the activity of the producer of the sensors (Slovenian company Eltratek d.o.o.) and their direct and indirect suppliers. Using low-cost sensors to measure the soil water content will allow the implementation of the strategy of DSWCM for irrigation, which enables lower water consumption. Water for irrigation currently is not expensive and does not represent a significant cost for irrigation, but the WFD provides the introduction of an economic price for water for all its uses.   The formulation of a new fertilizer from pig slurry from the farm on Krško Polje will have a direct impact on the activity of Slovenian companies Unichem d.o.o., as a manufacturer of new fertilizers, as well as to the pig farm on Krško Polje, which has a surplus of pig slurry. It will be directly relevant for suppliers of secondary raw materials for the fertilizer formulation (e. g. biochar, straw, sawing).  The formulation of fertilizer from manure will start the process of circular economy, which allows keeping different sources as long as possible in the consumption / production cycle. The process will provide new jobs along the entire value chain. At the same time the formulation of a new fertilizer may be an example of good practice for other farms and will also have an impact in the wider Slovenian area.
Most important scientific results Final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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